November 26, 2014

3:36 PM | Can Detroit Attract Middle-Class Families to One of the Worst School Systems in the Country?
DETROIT — Dara Hill, a college professor and mother of a four-year-old, diligently scribbled notes as the principal of Detroit’s Nichols Elementary-Middle School led her and several of her neighbors on a tour of the school. A room for special education students was brimming with stuffed animals, but the hallways were sparsely decorated. Work displayed in the kindergarten classroom was charming and developmentally appropriate. Why were there six students sitting to the side during […]

November 24, 2014

7:07 PM | Noteworthy Provisions of the New Higher Ed Act Draft
[This piece was co-authored by Ben Miller, Clare McCann, and Stephen Burd]. Yesterday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the retiring chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the second draft of his proposal for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. As we noted during our review of the initial draft back in June, there are a number of good proposals in the bill, particularly ones that would increase oversight over for-profit colleges and provide better […]

November 21, 2014

9:00 PM | The Talented Tenth Problem in College Admissions
A common theme in education policy discussion, particularly with regard to college education, has to do with the best way to help get poor kids into college, and out successfully, with little debt. At this point pretty much anyone can get admitted to college somewhere. The problem is that it costs so much to attend college that they so often drop out without a degree. Maybe we need special program for hard working, smart poor kids. One such program exists already, apparently. It's a […]
1:59 PM | Debt Collection Expert to Buy College Chain That Excels at Student Debt
If there was one thing Corinthian Colleges excelled at in the last few years it was sending students into debt with questionable credentials that were almost certainly going to lead to default. So maybe it’s fitting that its new owners are a company whose revenue and resource base is built upon collecting defaulted student loans. That’s what would happen under the sale announced today in which Corinthian Colleges would sell almost all of its non-California U.S. campuses to the […]
1:51 PM | Financing Dual Language Learning: The Data Matter
Title III, the law that governs federal funding and programs for dual language learners, provides relatively small amounts of money to states. As we explained in part one of our three-part blog series on the financing of dual language learners (DLLs), the formula provides 80 percent of federal dollars on the basis of each state’s share of dual language learners, and 20 percent on each state’s share of immigrant children. Importantly, though, when lawmakers rewrote the bilingual […]

November 20, 2014

10:01 PM | AAUP Questions Cuts at U. of Southern Maine
A national organization representing thousands of university professors is criticizing program cuts and faculty layoffs at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. In a letter addressed to President David Flanagan, the American Association of University Professors questions the severity of the university’s financial woes. AAUP, which was founded by philosopher John Dewey, says the actions being taken are in “blatant disregard” for tenured faculty. Citing low enrollment […]
9:00 PM | Wasting Time on the Internet, for Penn Credit
This had to happen eventually. Kenneth Goldsmith--the poet famous for wearing that suit to the White House in 2011--will teach a course at the University of Pennsylvania in the spring called “Wasting Time on the Internet.” And this is no gimick title designed to hoodwink kids into signing up for some boring psychology elective. No, it really is a course about wasting time online. As Goldsmith writes in the New Yorker: Come January, fifteen University of Pennsylvania […]

November 19, 2014

7:00 PM | Study Abroad: Not Enough of it, and It's Mostly Rich Kids
The Institute of International Education recently released Open Doors, its report about the state of international education, or study abroad, around the world. There are several trends worth discussing here, in particular an increase in the number of students studying in foreign nations, but in general it appears study abroad isn’t that common. It’s mostly just rich kids doing it, and a whole lot of students (at least the American ones) aren’t even learning a foreign language […]
5:35 PM | A Cynical Game that College Admissions Offices Play
Kudos to Amanda Graves, a high school senior in New Jersey, for calling attention to one of the most cynical games that selective colleges play to boost their prestige. In a column in the Washington Post on Monday, Graves wrote about how she has received letters and emails from top colleges urging her to apply to the schools. For example, Yale University sent the following message to her in September: Dear Amanda, As the Dean of Yale College, I write to congratulate you on your academic success […]
5:30 PM | Financing Dual Language Learning: Here’s How it Works
States are facing considerable challenges in meeting all children’s educational needs, especially given growing numbers of low-income and dual language learners (DLLs) in schools. For the most part, states and school districts bear the responsibility for serving DLLs. But the federal government, although it pitches in only about $723 million, has taken on a growing role in educating DLLs–albeit a still-controversial one. Since 1968, shortly after ESEA first became law, lawmakers […]

November 18, 2014

3:51 PM | Student Support Services: When 2% is Not a "Radical Policy Shift"
Only in Washington, D.C. can a tiny change of emphasis be portrayed as a “radical policy shift.” At least that’s the message some advocacy groups are making about a proposal that the U.S. Department of Education has made that would slightly alter the criteria it uses to award new Student Support Services grants to colleges. Student Support Services (SSS) is a federal program that gives grants to institutions of higher education so they can help low-income and first-generation […]
3:47 PM | Graduation Rates Are Down, Not Up, Since Economic Downturn
University and college graduation rates have declined since the beginning of the economic downturn, according to a new report, even as policymakers prod universities and colleges to turn out more people with degrees. While enrollment has gone up since 2008, the proportion of students who graduated has gone down, the report, by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, found. What happened to students who entered college in 2008. Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research […]
3:43 PM | Black Kids Lose When Democratic Ed Reformers Act Like Republicans
NEW ORLEANS – Republicans are winning the support of black Americans. But don’t give the GOP too much credit. Democrats have themselves to thank. And poor, black schoolchildren have little to be thankful for at all. Through the rhetoric of “choice,” “competition,” and “accountability,” the education-reform clique of the Democratic Party have been campaigning for Republicans since Obama arrived in office. Democratic education reformers have become […]

November 17, 2014

6:18 PM | The Sorry State of Vocational Training
Source: OECD Skills Beyond School Synthesis Report Nov 2014. Click on the chart to see a larger version. I had long been under the impression that the United States had a particular problem in providing technical and specialized professional training for students who maybe aren’t academically inclined. But it turns out the United States isn’t alone, and even nations with once vaunted apprenticeship programs are no longer properly training students to enter the workforce. A new […]
6:10 PM | Colleges and Universities Charge More, Keep Less, New Report Finds
Forced to keep discounting their prices as enrollment stagnates, U.S. universities and colleges expect their slowest growth in revenue in 10 years, the bond-rating company Moody’s reports. The squeeze could threaten further cuts in services even as tuition continues to increase. A quarter of colleges and universities are projecting declines in revenue, according to a closely watched annual Moody’s survey. Half of public and 40 percent of private institutions say they will take in […]
2:28 PM | In Mississippi, Lack of School Nurses a Threat to Health, Education
GREENWOOD, Miss. — On any given day, school nurse Samaria Stevenson is traveling between at least three schools in this rural Delta town. She counts the carbohydrates in lunch for a student with diabetes at one elementary school every day, while providing medical care for students at two others. She teaches health classes and presents the district’s abstinence education curriculum to middle school students. And all the while, she’s […]

November 14, 2014

9:34 PM | Computer Sci Continues to Reshape Higher Education
Harvard is significantly boosting its computer science faculty at a time when increased demand for the major continues to reshape higher education. The Harvard Crimson reports the college will add 12 professors. That's a 50 percent increase. On Thursday, the university announced a major donation from Microsoft CEO and Harvard alum Steven Ballmer. The goal, Ballmer says, is to compete with other elite universities that have recently expanded their computer science departments. “Right now I […]
8:00 PM | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Takes on College Athletics
This is perhaps not quite as entertaining as the time Babe Ruth wrote an article for the New Republic about Harry Truman's healthcare plan, but former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently penned a piece for the Jacobin, the socialist magazine of ideas, about the labor conditions of college athletes. It's definitely worth reading. College athletes are often exploited. They often generate big money for the schools that they attend, even while they can’t get paid (and are in many ways […]

November 13, 2014

9:00 PM | What Happens to Higher Education Policy after the 2014 Elections?
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has a brief looking at what changes are in store for colleges given the 2014 elections, in which the GOP swept into control across Congress, governors’ offices, and, perhaps most importantly for higher education, state houses. But it doesn’t appear too many dramatic changes are likely to occur. Leadership of the U.S. House isn’t going to change. Leadership of the Senate will, but while many interesting new people […]
12:56 PM | How to Save Teachers From Burning Out, Dropping Out and Other Hazards of Experience
An abundance of recent books, research and headlines present growing evidence that our nation’s schools can and must do a better job of preparing teachers for the experiences they’ll face in the classroom. They show that if educators really knew how to address the challenges of teaching in high poverty areas, they would increase their impact and make a longer career out of teaching. Certainly, better preparation is a crucial element to solving our teacher quality and retention […]
4:00 AM | Education Department Asks States to Improve Teacher 'Distribution'
How to improve education by fixing teacher quality is an important policy discussion when discussing where to make changes. Recently the U.S. Department of Education directed states to improve their distribution of teachers, to try to improve the number of poor students who have qualified teachers, or make the number of poor students who have qualified teachers equivalent to ratio at which non-poor kids enjoy them, or something. According to a piece at Education Week: The Obama […]

November 11, 2014

1:41 PM | Can Sex Ed Help Common Core Make the Grade? What Lena Dunham Might Say
NEW ORLEANS — Education reform minus a comprehensive sex-education platform is an incomplete agenda. What is more “Common Core” than sex and sexuality? But you never hear school leaders demand academic accountability around students’ sexual knowledge. Like it or not, school-aged students are still having sex. We should test what students know. Educators actually could, but we haven’t adopted national sex education standards to make those proper assessments. A lack […]

November 10, 2014

3:58 PM | Spiraling Graduate Student Debt Raises Alarms
An Army veteran, Anthony Manfre paid for his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees mostly with his GI Bill benefits, although he also took out $4,000 worth of student loans. “At the time, I thought that was a lot,” he said. “And now I look back and wish I only owed that much.” That’s because Manfre went on to graduate school, picking up a master’s degree before setting off on the long road to a doctorate in marriage and family therapy while borrowing […]

November 07, 2014

8:37 PM | Simmons Joins Growing List of Women's Colleges to Accept Transgender Students
Simmons College in Boston is the third U.S. women’s college - and the second in Massachusetts - to officially accept applications from transgender students.  Simmons has long admitted gender nonconforming students, but is now formalizing its admissions policy and accepting students born female, regardless of their current gender identity, as well as those who were born male and now identify as female. Related: Mount Holyoke's New Transgender Policy Redefines Women's Education […]
7:15 PM | Is It Time for the End of the Common App?
The Common Application for college admissions, used by an increasingly large number of colleges as a way to help ambitious students streamline the admissions process (these days a lot of students apply to at least six colleges; filling out multiple applications is just unnecessary), might now be the new has-been application process. According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Admissions officials at some of the nation’s most-selective colleges seek to create a new […]

November 06, 2014

5:38 PM | Why Can't We Fire Bad Teachers? There's a More Important Question to Ask Here.
Erstwhile Washington Monthly editor Haley Sweetland Edwards has written a great article about teachers’ unions. I urge you to read it because it's a balanced and compelling piece that looks seriously about what's going on in education policy and how the profession is going to change. It was also a highly controversial piece, but largely because of the cover treatment and headline it received from Time, where Haley now works. It was called "Rotten Apples: it's nearly impossible to fire a […]
5:20 PM | What Removing Default Rates Means For Gainful Employment
The most controversial change from the Department’s proposed version of the gainful employment regulation in the spring and the one released at the end of October is no longer judging programs based upon the percentage of borrowers that defaulted on their loans within three years of entering repayment. Removing this program cohort default rate got a lot of attention because it was the only measure that looked at all borrowers, regardless of whether they dropped out. In […]
5:17 PM | Financial Benefits of Popular Short-Term Certificates Questioned
Hugely popular short-term certificates—educational credentials designed to be completed within one year, and being pushed by community colleges and other higher-education institutions—provide almost no financial return to students, according to new research. While earning an associate’s degree or long-term certificate results in a higher likelihood of finding a job, and at a higher salary, short-term certificates generally resulted in neither of those, the research, by the […]

November 05, 2014

9:15 PM | Federal Policy Can Help Avoid Tragedies of Unlicensed Child Care
The dirty underbelly of child care sometimes has the worst possible outcome: the injury or death of a child. A report by the Washington Post earlier this year found that 60 children had died in child care programs, with several more since, according to an op-ed published last week by the executive director of Child Care Aware of Virginia. Worse yet, some of those deaths might have been preventable: The Washington Post report found that more than 7 in 10 of the deaths occurred in child care […]

November 04, 2014

10:15 PM | The Halloween 'Sexy' Treatment Goes Horribly Awry, Again
Halloween is that wonderful, fun time of year every possible professional or existential quality and can be reduced down to a (mildly to incredibly) offensive "sexy" costume for young women. Some professions, however, are rather more likely to generate outrage than others. And so I give you: the sexy PhD graduate (right). According to an article at Inside Higher Education: The “Delicious Women's Phd [sic] Darling Sexy Costume,” sold by Amazon, received a lot of virtual eye […]
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